The Courts Service is confident that their new online probate applications system will enable most executors, dealing with simple estates, to manage probate without visiting a probate registry or a solicitor’s offices. The online application form has been developed and tested since 2017 and has now been launched across England and Wales. The new system will allow up to four joint executors to apply and pay for probate online – including signing a statement of truth.
The Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Services, Susan Acland-Hood, said: “Making probate simpler and more convenient, and removing the need to attend a probate registry and swear an oath in person, helps bereaved people at a very challenging time – those who have tested our new service have told us how much difference it makes. I am delighted we are now able to offer this new, simpler way of doing probate to the public at large. It is part of the work we’re doing to make the justice system easier to navigate for everyone.”
The new service has been developed as part of HMCTS’ £1bn court reform programme. The online probate service should be appropriate for the vast majority of estates in England and Wales but cannot be used if the deceased was not a permanent resident in England or Wales or if the applicant does not have the original will.
Whilst the new service should speed up the probate process, it does not alter the fact that executors still have personal and unlimited liability if they make a mistake. Max Walter reporting in this month’s Law Gazette writes ‘more complex estates can quickly become difficult to administer and many members of the public are unaware that they can find themselves personally liable for any mistakes they make.’
Guy Everington, a Director of Executors Insurance, commented “If you do decide to deal with an estate yourself rather than handing it over to a professional such as a solicitor, indemnity insurance is a sensible and cost-efficient option. The premium can be paid for out of the estate and whether you are applying for probate online or in person, it offers the reassurance that you personally are not putting your family at risk.”
About the author
Guy has worked in the insurance profession for over thirty years, initially in the London Insurance market as a broker and subsequently as a Lloyd’s Members’ Agent. He set up private client insurance brokers Castleacre in 2005. Castleacre is the first company in the UK to offer indemnity insurance to lay executors – in direct response to clients who had become executors but could not find suitable cover on the market. If you have would like to know more about executor liability insurance or to contact Guy click here. If you wish to view the Executors Insurance blog click here.